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Jamesand Modernism: SomeFurther Interventions PaulB.Armstrong. The Phenomenology of Henrvlames. Chapel Hill and London: TheUniversityof North Carolina Press, 1983. 242+xivpp. StuartHutchinson. Henry James: An American as Modernist. New York and London: Barnes& Noble; Vision Press, 1983.136pp. JanetHolmgren McKay. Narration and Discourse inAmerican Realistic Fiction. Philadelphia: Universityof Pennsylvania Press, 1983.212 + x pp. William Stowe.Balzac, James and the Realistic Novel. Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1983. 203+xviiipp. EdwardWagenknecht. The Novels of Henry James. NewYork:Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1983.329 +vi pp. Robin P.Hoople The question is,what is there left to write about Henry James? If we listen to JohnCarlos Rowe in his Henry Adams and Henry James (1975), there is still leftthe job of translating our perceptions of James into the idiom of our own moment. Rowe isstrongly seconded by some phenomenologists who propose an end to speculation about James and a beginning, through some scientific method, offinding out the final truth at last. Ruth Bernard Yeazell'sLanguage andKnowledge in the Late Novels of Henry James (1976) certainly lights a path to new explorations and promulgates a study often hinted but never so fully seen when she chastizes those who wish to "moralize the text,, in seekingrefuge "in the distinctions of another, more epistemologically stable world" (p. 11). Others, variously, have also touched some important and productive Jamesian motifs recently: Peter Brooks in The Melodramatic Imagination (1977), interestingly cognate with Yeazell in his demonstration of both Balzac's and James's focus on the melodramatic as an imitation of bathos but as arising from "the desacralized remnants of sacred myth" left in the wake of the French Revolution; Stephen Donadio in Nietzsche, Henry lames and the Artistic Will (1978) where Nietzschean will stands between weakman and chaos; Strother Purdy in The Hole in the Fabric (1977) who sees clearly how the "progressive breakdown in stability and fixity" of our concept of the universe has cut us loose from our sense of the absolute authority of the cosmos in defining the significances of objects and systems Canadian Review of American Studies, Volume 16, Number 1, Spring 1985, 57-71 58 Robin P.Hoople and who thus provides a gloss on the epistemological instability of the environment of James1 s late novels in much the same sense as Yeazell has presented it. Nor do the editors of the recently founded Hemy James Review believe that James studies to date have exhausted the values of his work. While this is nothing like an overview of recent James criticism, it is meant to suggest some lines of inquiry that have borne and are bearing fruit: for each of the titles listed above is germinal, suggestive rather than definitive. I point this out to some extent by way of contrast with the books under review here. Of the five books, two-Hutchinson's and Wagenknecht's-are works by literary generalists; the other three are specialized works, covering to some extent territory that has been worked by recent predecessors. Such books might leave us, in other words, with the impression that there are few veins in the Jamesian mine that have not been exhausted in spite of the vitality of these authors, recent predecessors. Edward Wagenknecht has been cavalcading through literature for more than fifty years. He is literate and alive, though an octogenarian, and his bibliography is impressive in the number and variety of titles. Only recently, he produced Eve and Hem:\' James (1978); one suspects that The Novels of Henry James is a by blow of that project. Stuart Hutchinson's Henry James studies, or at least ponders, seven novels of the author, though his failure to introduce us to his method of selection or to the occasion for the volume leaves us to infer for ourselves why he has approached us. Janet Holmgren McKay proposes to deal with the nature of narration and discourse in the American realist novel: she studies James's The Bostonians, Howells' Silas Lapham and Twain's Huckleberi:v Finn. William Stowe gives us Balzac, James and the Realistic Novel in a well· researched and scholarly statement on a subject that has occasioned a good deal of recent comment. Paul Armstrong has given us...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 57-71
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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